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Comeback falls short

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

Don’t fret, it’s only the pre-season, the comeback Canucks are saving their magic for when it counts.

Vancouver dropped its third consecutive pre-season game losing to the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 Wednesday night in front of 18,860 shagadelic fans on 80’s night at Rogers Arena.

Edmonton goals from Ben Ondrus and Chris Vande Velde had the Oilers in front 2-0 through two periods before Vancouver mounted an attack in the third. Daniel Sedin scored a power play goal and Peter Schaefer followed it up with a shorthanded marker to even the game a 2-2 midway through the period, but Gregory Stewart took advantage of an Oilers man advantage with 7:18 remaining to give Edmonton a 3-2 lead it wouldn’t let evaporate.

Vancouver storming back from a two-goal deficit brought back memories of the 2009-10 team that never said never coming back for an NHL-high 11 third period wins, one off the league record of 12.

To Daniel Sedin, who skated alongside brother Henrik and Russian prospect Sergei Shirokov on Vancouver’s top line, the key was more shots. Shots, shots, shots, shots.

“I think we played a pretty good game, but we need to get more shots, we played on the outside too much,” said Daniel, who was kneed from behind by Alexandre Giroux in the third period forcing “tough guy” Shirokov to drop the gloves with Giroux.

“He did a good job, you can’t ask for anything more,” Daniel said of Shirokov.

Vancouver’s second line of Ryan Kesler, Mason Raymond and Mikael Samuelsson failed to dent the scoreboard, but was the most explosive trio on the ice displaying mid-season familiarity with one another combining for six shots.

It only took one shot for Schaefer, flanked by Alex Bolduc and Guiallume Desbiens, to find the back of the net to tie the game. It was the former Canucks draft pick’s first goal in a Canucks uniform since April 1, 2001 – no jokes – and first score on home ice since March 10, 2001.

Schaefer scored his last NHL goal on March 27, 2008 as a member of the Boston Bruins.

It’s understandable then that after unloading a wobbly slap shot from just over the blueline that eluded Devan Dubnyk with Vancouver shorthanded, Schaefer wasn’t too sure how to celebrate.

“It’s been a while,” said Schaefer. “I scored a couple this summer, but I’m not sure they count. I was fighting the puck a bit, but I’ll take it.”

Currently with the Canucks on a pro-tryout, Schaefer has now played a pair of exhibition games and it’s so far, so good, for the veteran forward.

“I feel my skating is there, it’s just my timing and handling the puck, I’m a little unsure of myself. I’ve got a short period of time here to gain [some confidence] and hopefully keep getting better.”

Between the pipes Roberto Luongo played the first 40 minutes before Cory Schneider came in in relief for the third period.

Luongo allowed two goals on 25 shots, but he’s not sweating that or the Canucks loss.

“Especially the first one, I don’t put too much stock in it,” said Luongo. “I just go out there and really get a feel for the game, it’s been a few months that I haven’t played a game. It doesn’t really matter how many shots or goals you give up, you just want to get a feel for the game and I think it went pretty well for me.”

This was Luongo’s first time playing with Canucks newcomer Dan Hamhuis, who made his home debut in a Canucks sweater. Communication is the key to a successful relationship between defencemen and goaltenders and Lui felt the two were on the same page on this night.

“I think it went pretty smooth tonight as far as that’s concerned,” said Luongo. “There were some plays behind the net where there were some good handoffs and in front of the net everything went really well. We spoke about it before the game as far as traffic and blocking shots, so it went very well. Obviously you want to win the game, but for a first time as a unit defensive wise, it was good.”

NOTES: Three of the leading candidates to be awarded the Canucks vacant captaincy in Ryan Kesler, Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin were all wearing an A for this contest; the last time Vancouver lost three games in regulation during pre-season play was 2006 when they dropped five; Andrew Alberts led the Canucks in hits with six.

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